Lord Sewel Scandal Rages On

By Rowan Williams
  • – Lord Sewel urged to resign
  • – Turkey agrees Syrian safe zone
  • – China shares fall 8.5 percent


Lord Sewel has been suspended from the Labour Party and urged to resign from the House of Lords, following the release of a video showing the peer taking cocaine with prostitutes. Police are now investigating the allegations against Lord Sewel, who has already resigned as deputy speaker of the House of Lords and chairman of the Lords privileges and conduct committee. Lord Sewel has not spoken publicly about the scandal, but has reportedly indicated he would not stand down from the House of Lords. The suspension or expulsion of Lord Sewel may be delayed by up to a year, as investigations by the Lords commissioner for standards must be suspended if a matter is being investigated by police.

Turkey’s military action against Islamic extremist group the Islamic State (IS) looks set to escalate, following an agreement with the US to establish an ‘IS-free zone’ along Turkey’s 500-mile border with Syria. Turkey has long demanded the establishment of the safe zone as a precondition of it entering the military coalition against IS. Turkey has seen IS-related violence increase within its borders, and last week launched its first air strikes against IS in Syria in response. Kurdish forces in Syria have meanwhile appealed to Turkey to halt attacks on its units, alleging that Turkish tanks had shelled the Kurdish-held Syrian village of Zormikhar on Sunday.

Shares on the Chinese stock market fell 8.5 percent on Monday, the biggest one-day fall since February 2007. The fall in China’s Shanghai Composite Index comes after data on Friday showed the worst performance in industrial activity in China in 15 months. The fall marks a departure of investors’ uneasy confidence in China’s economic stability, following a precipitous drop in the Chinese stock market in June. Then, Chinese authorities had stepped in to stabilise the rapidly falling stock market. Monday’s share drop suggests that wider economic intervention to secure growth may be required before confidence and stability return to the Chinese markets.

The Papers

Yesterday’s drug revelations surrounding Lord Sewel make the headlines in most of the tabloids today, as well as The Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph writes that the House of Lords has called the police on “cocaine video peer” Lord Sewel. Sewel was the former Labour minister in charge of standards, the paper writes. In other news, the Independent leads with a warning that Britain leaving the EU “would harm universities and students”. The warning comes from vice-chancellors of 133 leading universities, who also say that leaving the EU could threaten scientific research, exchange programmes, and graduate job prospects. The Guardian leads with news that ethnic minority Britons have been left “worse off” after the government’s Budget. According to a racial equalities thinktank, benefit cuts will hit “4m people and 1.25m homes”. The Times warns wealthy readers to “Act now or risk losing valuable pension perk”. Tax relief on pension contributions, worth £5,000 to millions of Britons, is to be removed, a government minister has warned. The Financial Times leads with news that US$200 billion of energy projects has been shelved following another slump in the price of oil.

British Media on China

On the latest China stock market fall: Monday’s sharp drop in China’s Shanghai Composite Index has received coverage from UK media. The BBC reports that despite government intervention, it is “lack of confidence in the government measures that has led to the fall”, with “weaker than expected” growth also partly to blame. The Daily Telegraph features a piece asking “Why has the Chinese stock market plunged again?” The piece suggest three possible answers: either China’s economy has “come off the rails”; authorities “won’t keep supporting the market”; or authorities “can’t keep supporting the market”. The Guardian’s agency piece on the story writes that “analysts struggled to explain the severity” of the stock sell-off.

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